UNLV v North Carolina

Marcus Paige ready for Lorenzo Brown, N.C. State this time

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North Carolina and N.C. State met back in January in Raleigh. Lorenzo Brown went for 20 points and 11 assists to lead the Wolfpack to a 91-83 win over the Tar Heels. Brown’s opposition, Marcus Paige went 2-for-11 for seven points and four assists.

Saturday in Chapel Hill, the freshman point guard is ready for Act II.

It wasn’t a terrible game for me, personally,” Paige sad according to the News & Observer. “But obviously it wasn’t a good game at all. So obviously there’s a lot of room to go up.

I’ve played a lot more ACC games now. So I’m just more seasoned, I guess, than I was earlier in the year. I’m better prepared. And plus we’ve played them already. [Brown] is a great player, so it will just be another great experience for me to get better.”

This will be not only a different game for Paige, but it’s also the first time N.C. State faces the smaller UNC lineup. P.J. Hairston has helped the Tar Heels win two of the last three games since being inserted into the starting lineup, including a 29-point outburst against Virginia,  avenging an loss earlier this season. Although he did struggle in Tuesday’s win against Georgia Tech.

Saturday’s game between Carolina rivals will also separate a three-way tie for third place in the ACC standings. Miami remains undefeated while Duke is in sole possession of second. The Tar Heels and Wolfpack are tied with Virginia for third. North Carolina and Virginia split the season series, but the Cavaliers hold the tiebreaker over N.C. State.

Tip is at 4 p.m.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: